First, let’s back up and talk about carbohydrates. There are 3 main types of carbohydrates: sugar, starch, and fiber.
Yes, sugar and fiber are actually carbohydrates! It gets a bit confusing because when people talk about carbs, they are usually referring to starch only, such as those found in bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and beans. They are usually not thinking of sugar or fiber.
We all know that fiber is excellent for us, and we should eat as much fiber as possible. Unlike sugar and starch, fiber cannot be broken down into sugar molecules and leaves the body undigested. Foods with a lot of fiber in them make them less digestible, and as a result, less sugar is delivered to the body. Fiber promotes removal of waste from your body and helps lower cholesterol.
Since fiber is so good for us, when we say “no carb foods” or “low carb foods,” let’s assume we are NOT referring to fiber, and that we mean “no/low sugar and no/low starch foods”.
No Carb Foods or Low Carb Foods in Weight Loss
In weight loss programs, consumption of low carb foods is a very popular and frequently effective dieting strategy. This is why most recommended weight loss diets focus on low or absolutely zero carb foods.
For instance, the Atkins diet has its induction phase diet plan consisting of extremely low carb and high protein foods. If you strictly follow this diet, then you have to abstain from any food that is rich in carbohydrates such as potatoes, pasta, rice, plus some fruits and vegetables.
Which Foods Have No Carbs?
While there are quite a number of foods that have low carbs, foods with zero carbohydrates are much more limited.
Below are no carb foods that have absolutely no carbs based on the National Nutrient Database published by the US Department of Agriculture.
No Carb Beverages
- Water. Ok this may be an obvious one, but in case anyone was wondering. Water remains the healthiest carb-free drink. Make sure to drink enough water during the day to stay hydrated and for optimal bowel movements. Sparkling water and club soda are also carb-free.
- Coffee & Tea. Any black coffee or tea you make are carb-free. However, once you put in milk or sugar, it is no longer carb-free!
No Carb Fresh Unprocessed Meat
The following fresh unprocessed meats have no carbs. Note that any meat that is processed typically has carbs, including beef in fast food burgers and beef jerky:
In addition, the Harvard School of Public Health concluded that eating processed meat such as burgers, hot dogs and deli meat significantly increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes as explained in the short video below. Another good reason to eat more unprocessed no carb meat instead of processed meat.
No Carb Fresh Unprocessed Fish
The following fresh unprocessed fish have no carbs:
No Carb Oils
The following oils have no carbs. Keep in mind that oil has a lot of calories, so you should not over-consume oil:
- Olive oil
- Sunflower oil
- Safflower oil
- Corn oil
- Soybean oil
- Canola oil
- Peanut oil
- Sesame oil
- Coconut oil
No Carb Alcoholic Beverages
The following alcoholic beverages have no carbs.
Other Foods With Extremely Low Carbs
Following are foods with virtually no carbs or extremely low carbs, again based on the National Nutrient Database published by the US Department of Agriculture.
- Butter and Margarine
- Dill weed
- Cheese (Parmesan, Camembert, Cheddar, Swiss, Provolone, Mozzarella, Blue cheese)
- Sour cream
- Tea (all kinds)
- Whip cream
- Green pepper
- Cream cheese
In reality, since your body needs the fiber and nutrients from vegetables, most of which contain starch, a zero-carb diet is probably not possible. In terms of going on a low-carb diet, opinions differ on whether severely limiting carbs is good for your health or even for your long-term weight loss.
If you are or thinking of going on a low-carb diet, be sure to watch your energy levels. If you have low energy levels for a prolonged period of time, you may need to increase your carb intake.
Low Carb Vegetables and Fruits
In addition to the zero or virtually zero carb foods above, below are common vegetables and fruits you can enjoy, with the lowest carb count based on United States Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database.
Low Carb Vegetables
Make sure to eat sufficient vegetables while on a low-carb diet, in order to feed your body with the vital nutrients it needs.
- Pumpkin leaves
- Chicory greens
- Chinese cabbage
- Turnip greens
- Mustard spinach
- Bamboo shoots
- Yellow snap beans
- Jalapeno pepper
- Swiss chard
- Portabella mushrooms
- Taro shoots
- Green pepper
- Savoy cabbage
Low Carb Fruits
Fruits tend to be high in carbs, especially sugar, so the ones you can eat generously are limited.
Low and No Carb Foods List, Printable List
You can download the low & no carb foods list below, and use it as your shopping list. Easily viewable on mobile devices.